Beware the ides of March…

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Today, the ides of March, is the average last freeze date in north Texas. There are times, although, when after the 15th of March we’ve experienced one or more late freezes which kill the smatterings of early spring blooms that often start here as early as February. But interestingly there’s a saying hereabouts which purports that if the pecan trees have not yet budded by the 15th, there will definitely be more freezes. So I keep an eye on my neighbor’s pecan tree as it actually has branches reaching over our common fence line, and I can easily see whether it has started budding or not. That’s why today I went out for my usual ides of March sojourn over to my north fence and looked up to find that tiny buds are beginning to appear on some of the tree’s branches. And silly as it may seem, I’ve been watching that circumstance for over a decade now, and it has never failed to be quite accurate in its forecast. So now I can and will bring the ferns out of the green house to enjoy breezy and fresher open air, and I will be able to move forward with more and more plantings. Isn’t it fascinating that seeds which fall to the ground during the growing season in summer and/or autumn know when it’s time to start germinating in the spring and that pecan trees and other already growing things know when it’s safe to start budding and leafing out. Indeed, the Lord’s designs, in all things, are amazingly far better laid out than “the plans of mice and men.”

**Crocus photo taken by Natalie

1361. The spring is coming by many a sign… ~Excerpted line from a poem by John Clare

I have said that there was
great pleasure in watching
the ways in which different plants
come through the ground,
and February and March are
the months in which that
can best be seen.
~Henry N. Ellacombe

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March! March! March!
They are coming In troops to the tune of the wind.
Redheaded woodpeckers drumming,
Gold – crested thrushes behind;
Sparrows in brown jackets, hopping
Past every gateway and door;
Finches, with crimson caps, stopping
Just where they stopped before.

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March! March! March! They are slipping
Into their places at last. . .
Literature white lily buds, dripping
Under the showers that fall fast;
Buttercups, violets, roses;
Tulip and bluebell and pink;
Daffodils and saucer magnolias
Throng upon throng of sweet posies
Bending the dewdrops to drink.

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March! March! March! They will hurry
Forth at the wild bugle sound,
Blossoms and birds in a flurry,
Fluttering all over the ground.
Shake out your flags, birch and willow!
Shake out your red tassels, larch!
Grass blades, up from your earth – pillow.
Hear who is calling you. . . March.
~Edited and adapted poem
by Lucy Larcom

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Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. ~Song of Songs 2:12 ✝

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**All photos taken by Natalie except the one of the House Finch.

1357. Late February, and the air’s so balmy snowdrops and crocuses might be fooled into early blooming. ~Gail Mazur

It’s only approaching mid-February rather than late February hereabouts, and there are no crocuses yet nor snowdrops blooming for us, but it is balmy enough for the quinces, daffodils, and saucer magnolias to have been fooled into blooming.

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oft treacherous is
winter when it proffers not
cold nor snow nor ice

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But instead betrays
the garden with lies that spring
has indeed arrived

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So that daffodils
and quince and magnolias
flower too early

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Leaving them in great
peril from a forth coming
late wintry, hard freeze

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So who’s to say that
‘tis the month of love when
deceitfulness lurks

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But as for the Lord: … but I(God) will not take my love from him, not will I ever betray my faithfulness to him. I will not violate my covenant or alter why my lips have uttered. ~Psalm 89:33-34 ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie except for the first one. I found it on Pinterest today.

 

1356. The February sunshine steeps your boughs and tints the buds and swells the leaves within. ~William C. Bryant

yellow jasmine and
daffodils too have I seen
springtime harbingers

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poppy progeny
grows where seeds fell from dried pods
as summer drew nigh

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tulip foliage
as well as anemones
break ground ‘neath the oak

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new leaves appear on
roses that survived the first
hard, too early freeze

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This is what the Lord says to me: “I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat…” ~Excerpted passage from Isaiah 18:4  ✝

**All but two images taken by Natalie; collages created by Natalie; haikus written by Natalie

1351. Stella, oh, Stella, Stella! Stella for Star! ~Excerpted line from A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

Beauty is a nectar which
intoxicates the soul.
~T.C. Henley

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In north central Texas where I live, more often than not, we have a winter warm up for a week or so in January. It’s just enough for a few things to believe that spring has arrived and subsequently bloom weeks earlier than normal. As a result of this year’s January warm up, my first magnolia stellata, sometimes called the star magnolia, opened this morning believing that springtime had indeed arrived. Her white, tinged with pink, beauty intoxicated, as it always does, not only my soul but also my eyes. Thus  I found myself uttering the usual litany of words about her stellar loveliness, words like exquisite, gorgeous, magnificent, elegant and so on. However, I given that I’m certain the magnolia has been egregiously duped by January’s treacherous travesty,  I also offered up a prayer that none of her succeeding blooms should perish before the return to winter that February will bring.

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Ecclesiastes 3:4 tell us there’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…,” and what amazes me is that even the creatures and beauties of the field seem to know this. The more I observe the goings on in my garden and other aspects of Creation, the more awestruck I become with its plans, its workings, and its Maker. God’s promises are rock solid and too is His faithfulness in keeping them. For no matter what may strike at the foundations of Creation, nothing stops it cycles and continuation. Another thing that simply blows my mind is that God specifically chose all of you and I to partner with Him in Creation’s amazing and ongoing drama. Perhaps that’s something we should contemplate and let sink down deep in our spirits every day and then thereafter take great delight in the peace that comes with such an awareness.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… ~Ecclesiastes 3:1  ✝

1080. Come, gentle Spring!  Ethereal Mildness!  Come. ~James Thomson 

O the green things growing, the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the green things growing!
I should like to live, whether I smile or grieve,
Just to watch the happy life of my green things growing.
~Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

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But, but, but, it’s just way to early for spring’s “ethereal madness” and the green things growing. The day after my knee surgery at the end of February last year, it snowed and then three days later when I came home from the hospital it snowed again. Our last average freeze date isn’t until March 15th, and there have been times when a hard, late freeze or an ice/snow event have occurred even as late as April 1st. So what’s up with this crazy weather? I love springtime and I’m always thrilled when it arrives, but this is just too soon for it to come. Thank goodness I got started earlier than usual on cleaning up and weeding the beds because we virtually had no winter to speak of. Also I’d already gotten the roses pruned and ready to go. But then since roses are supposed to be fed when they are leafed out and most of mine are almost leafed out already, what do I do now? If I go ahead and feed them, they’ll really get going, and a late freeze could kill all the new growth and set them way back. I’m also concerned about the ducks that winter at our neighborhood pond since I noticed last week that they’ve left already. It’s too early for that too. They could end up getting their little derriere’s frozen off by returning too soon to their northern homes because Old Man Winter and Jack Frost may have high-tailed it out of Texas, but that doesn’t mean they’ve closed up shop elsewhere.

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Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly–and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.
~Omar Khayyám

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Spring’s cup is indeed being filled regardless of the date and time, and it’s fire has begun to fling off winter’s garments. As well the bird is on the wing. I know this because I’ve been watching them for at least a week or two refurbishing birdhouses or feathering nests. So it looks like I’m going to need to pray for their sake and for sake of all the green things growing that winter doesn’t come back for a last hurrah!

See! The winter is past… ~Excerpt from Song of Songs 2:11  ✝

1079. I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. If not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that. ~Gillian Anderson

February 26th is not a holiday nor necessarily a particularly important day for that matter, but it is a significant day for me. A year ago today I was in surgery getting my left knee replaced which has been a huge success and blessing for me. Then today after returning home from my end of the year check up on it, I noticed that again one of my early posts had been viewed making it still the most viewed and liked one to date. So I decided to repost it to commemorate blessings and favorable outcomes in general. The only thing I’ve changed about it is the photo.

46. A Robin Redbreast in a cage puts all Heaven in a rage. ~William Blake
FEBRUARY 26, 2013 BY NATALIESCARBERRY

When father takes his spade to dig
then Robin comes along;
And sits upon a little twig
And sings a little song.
~Laurence Alma-Tadema

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The introductory line in the title is from Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence,” a somewhat lengthy poem consisting of a series of paradoxes in which Blake juxtaposes innocence with evil and corruption. The word augury in the title means omen or token, and the robin is the poem’s first noted “augury of innocence.”  The robin’s song, personality, and countenance are such that it’s obvious why the poet saw the act of putting one in a cage as not only an enraging violation but also as a profound perversion of holiness.  The sweet song and colorful markings of a robin make the bird a delightful harbinger of spring’s infancy and innocence.  Looking forward to its coming is one of my favorite rites in spring’s passage, and like “all heaven” I’d be incensed if the bird’s freedom were taken away and its song silenced.  Below is a legend about the robin that again ties the bird to the blameless and sacred.  Although the truthfulness of legends is questionable, I’m fascinated that somehow, somewhere, and in some way the robin was connected to the Messiah.

The Legend of the First Robin
One day, long ago, a little bird in Jerusalem saw a large crowd gathered around a man carrying a heavy wooden cross.  On the man’s head was a crown made from a thorn branch.  The thorns were long and sharp.  The little bird saw that the thorns were hurting the man.  It wanted to help Him, so it flew down and took the longest, sharpest thorn in its tiny beak.  The bird tugged and pulled until the thorn snapped from the branch.  Then a strange thing happened.  A drop of blood fell onto the bird’s breast, staining it bright red.  The stain never went away.  And so today the robin proudly wears a red-breast, because it helped a man named Jesus.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?  In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. . .”  ~Job 12:7-10   ✝